JOPLIN - In a thank-you gesture for the sizable Muslim community, hundreds of Americans came together on Saturday, August 25, to show support for Muslims in Joplin in the mid-western state of Missouri after an arson attack on their mosque.
We send a message to the world that we will not let anger or hate or ignorance or fear win, rally organizer and college student Ashley Carter told participants, The Joplin Globe reported.
Peace starts when we always respond in love.
Hundreds of Americans from different faiths gathered at a city park in Joplin in a show of solidarity with Muslims after the destruction of their mosque in an arson attack this month.
Organizers of the Neighbors-Joplin Mosque Rally say the event aims to give back to the local Muslim community because their mosque was a relief center for victims of the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, which took 161 lives and damaged or destroyed more than 8,000 buildings.
We are not going to let hatred win, Carter said.
We are going to spread love with radical acts of kindness.
Federal and local investigators have not determined the cause of the fire that destroyed the Islamic Center of Joplin on August 6.
But leaders of the local Muslim community suspect the fire was a hate crime. A small fire also occurred there on July 4.
The fire that destroyed the Joplin mosque happened the morning after a white supremacist shot dead six worshipers at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee.
Police and Sikh temple members speculated that he might have mistakenly thought Sikhs were Muslims.
About $406,000 has been raised to rebuild the Joplin mosque. The donations have far exceeded the goal of $250,000, said Kimberly Kester, spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Joplin.
"There are really no words we can use to convey how appreciative we are and how much this means to us," Kester told Reuters.
"Everyone is coming together to be a stronger community."
The rally has lured Americans from different states, who flocked to Joplin to show solidarity with Muslims.
I'm a great believer in freedom of religion, Harry Gardner, who travelled with his wife to Joplin from Granby, told The Joplin Globe.
Gardner said that he could not believe that the Joplin mosque was destroyed in the attack.
I couldn't believe it. I think, Where does it stop? Who's next?'
Stacy Cassity, a resident of Joplin, said she was grateful for the rally because it gave her the chance to meet and talk with Muslims.
The show of solidarity has pleased many Muslim residents.
This is a big event, Shafique Chowdhury, a member of the mosque said.
It shows the power of love over the power of hatred. We're amazed by the community support.
Asjad Khan felt the same.
This is a great event, he said.We appreciate it a lot. It raises our spirits. This helps to heal.